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A personal journey back to God

By Ben-Peter Terpstra - posted Thursday, 9 September 2010


It’s not too late. At least, that’s the message readers can take from The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith. Inside, the uncelebrated Christian, Peter Hitchens, writes frankly about his personal journey back to God, and his brother, Christopher, the celebrated atheist. There is no burning rage left.

“I set fire to my Bible,” confesses Peter in the opening chapter, “on the playing fields of my Cambridge boarding school one bright, windy spring afternoon in 1967. I was fifteen years old.”

But the Holy Book, didn’t “blaze fiercely and swiftly” as the new atheist hoped. “Only after much blowing and encouragement did I manage to get it to ignite at all, and I was left with a disagreeable, half-charred mess. Most of my small invited audience drifted away long before I had finished, disappointed by the anticlimax and the pettiness of the thing.”

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So what turns a former Bible burner back to the Father? Certainly, it wasn’t the hostile anti-Christian media. Peter Hitchens, for starters, like me, maintains that it is better to believe in God than to risk unbelief. But there are many other reasons too many to dissect here, or baby steps leading to faith. What stands out, however, is Peter’s genuine love and concern for his angry brother, coupled with his willingness to look outside himself.

“I am, of course, concerned especially about Christopher. His passion against God, about which he used to say much less, grew more virulent and confident during the years while I was making my gradual, hesitant way back to the altar-rail.” And Peter is more than sympathetic: “It is also my view that, as with all atheists, Christopher is his own chief opponent. As long as he can convince himself, nobody else will persuade him.”

You’ll often hear people ask: If there is a God then why is life so tough? And keep in mind that (a) the questioner is often a healthy white, middleclass to rich left-winger and (b) probably unwilling to hear the answer to the question. Or as Peter Hitchens knows full well, atheists talk themselves out of one faith to another.

What’s more, such boorish arguments are circular. If one wants to be cute, then why can’t a good day prove the existence of God? Or why can’t, for the sake of argument, a bad day confirm the existence of Lucifer? I very much doubt these “searchers” have even read the Bible, with an open mind.

“Part 2: Addressing the Three Failed Arguments of Atheism” is particularly insightful. “God is the leftists’ chief rival,” explains Hitchens:

Christian belief, by subjecting all men to divine authority and by asserting in the words “My kingdom is not of this world” that the ideal society does not exist in this life, is the most coherent and potent obstacle to secular utopianism.

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The Bible is attacked for being unrealistic and for stating that individuals should reach out to the poor, because government can’t build heaven on earth. It offers a competitive set of beliefs:

Christ’s reproof of Judas - “the poor always ye have with you” - when Judas complains that precious ointment could have been sold to feed the poor rather than applied to Jesus’ feet (see John 12:1-8 KJV), is also a stumbling-block and an annoyance to world reformers.

I should also note here too that a poor African, dying of starvation, is more likely to say, “There is a God,” without bitterness because there is more to life than this life, and because man deserves blame. The Bible is also uneasy with telling people how to spend their money, unlike the socialist. As every literate Protestant knows, one-to-one giving is blessed, but forced wealth distribution is considered rather suspect.

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About the Author

Ben-Peter Terpstra has provided commentary for The Daily Caller (Washington D.C.), NewsReal Blog (Los Angeles), Quadrant (Sydney), and Menzies House (Adelaide).

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